- Choose a current developing news story on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Alternatively, choose a recent news story on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that developed over at least several days. Good places to look for stories include Web sites, weekly magazines, and newspapers. Many of them are listed in the Resources section.
- Discuss the concepts of objectivity and subjectivity, and how tone and vocabulary, point of view, sources, and position and length of a story may reveal subtle biases in the news story. Some discussion questions might include the following:
- What difference does it make if one party is described as attacking while the other is said to be responding or retaliating?
- Is violence described as terrorism or nationalist struggle?
- What kinds of adjectives are used to describe the event?
- What might these choices tell you about the point of view of the author?
- If photographs are used, what is their impact?
- Is it possible for any news writing to be completely objective or neutral? Why or why not?
- Discuss the background to the news story you have chosen with the class. Good sources are included in the Resources section.
- Have students track the development of the story over a one-week period in several different publications from different regions. Students should collect as many articles as possible on the event from different sources and keep a scrapbook in which they record the date, page, reporter, and length of the story as well as what images, if any, were used and what overall impression the article gives about the people and the region involved.
- Have students bring their scrapbooks to class. Lead a classroom discussion about the differences in the articles from different newspapers, asking students to give concrete examples of how vocabulary, images, placement, etc., might affect the reader.
- Working in small groups, have students compare and contrast various points of view represented by the articles they have collected. Have them chart contrasting perspectives (for example, pro-Israeli statements, pro-Palestinian statements, and statements they see as non-biased).
- Discussion questions:
- Should news and editorials be unbiased? Why or why not?
- What issues should the reader keep in mind when reading a news story?
- Why is it important to read several sources before drawing conclusions?
- Have each group create two editorials, editorial cartoons, or a television commentary that take a recent and related issue and present different points of view about that issue.
How well can students demonstrate an understanding of an editorial point of view in a news story?
Global Connections Essays:
- Politics: From Royalty to Democracy
Politics in the Middle East, far from being solely an issue of Islamic resurgence as is often presented by Western media, actually reflects a complex mixture of issues that include nationalism, religion, social and economic concerns, anti-colonialist sentiments, tribal loyalties, and ethnic identities.
How were the modern nation-states of the Middle East created?
- Religion: Three Religions, One God
Three of the world's major religions -- the monotheist traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- were all born in the Middle East and are all inextricably linked to one another.
- Economics: It's More Than Oil
National economies throughout the Middle East struggled in the 19th and 20th centuries to develop their natural and human resources, to modernize their societies, and to raise their standards of living.
- Roles of Women
What factors determine the changing roles of women in the Middle East and Islamic societies?
What are some typical misperceptions and stereotypes Westerners hold about Islam and the Middle East, and vice versa?
- Culture: A Rich Mosaic
Culture, a shared set of traditions, belief systems, and behaviors, is shaped by history, religion, ethnic identity, language, and nationality, among other factors. The Middle East consists of approximately 20 countries, with many different religions and a variety of ethnic and linguistic groups.
- Palestine, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
The struggle over land, and not religious differences, is the cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- Online NewsHour
NewsHour is the nation's first and only hour-long nightly broadcast of national news.
- NOW with Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers anchors an hour-long weekly news series offering fresh perspectives and analysis on today's events, issues, and the ideas that are shaping our world.
- All Things Considered
For two hours every weekday, All Things Considered senior host Robert Siegel and his co-hosts present the program's trademark mix of news, interviews, commentaries, reviews, and offbeat features.
- Arab Stereotypes and American Educators
An overview of American stereotypes in popular culture
- The Jerusalem Post Online
A source of information about Israel, Jewish affairs, and developments in the Middle East
- Ha'aretz Online
Founded in 1919 by Zionist immigrants, Ha'aretz is a daily newspaper with a broadly liberal outlook on domestic and international affairs.
- Palestine Times Online
The Palestine Times is a monthly political English newspaper that contains Palestinian news, world news, interviews, and analysis.
- ArabNews Online
ArabNews, the first Saudi English-language daily newspaper, strives to break cultural barriers and unify Arabs and non-Arabs alike in responding to their need for information.
- New York Times Online
The Web site for the New York Times newspaper, with articles updated throughout the day
- Christian Science Monitor Online
Church ownership and a public-service mission give the Christian Science Monitor a unique journalistic voice.
- The Independent Online
The Independent is a relatively new (founded in 1986) British newspaper with a mission to take a broader view.
- Reuters News Service Online
Reuters is the world's largest news and television agency, with 2,498 editorial staff, journalists, photographers, and camera operators in 198 bureaus in 150 countries.
- Associated Press Online
The Associated Press is a not-for-profit cooperative and is owned by its 1,550 U.S. daily newspaper members. It also serves more than 8,500 newspaper, radio, and television subscribers worldwide.
- CNN Online
The Web site for CNN is updated throughout the day. CNN employs a global team of almost 4,000 news professionals.
- Turkish Daily News Online
Turkish Daily News is Turkey's first and only English daily newspaper.
For a shorter assignment that does not require students to have Internet access, choose three articles on the same event from three of the publications listed in the Resources section. Copy the articles and distribute them to students. Have the students analyze the point of view of the writer, taking into account tone, vocabulary, information given and its placement, sources used, point of view, length of story, placement of story, and images used.
Using online resources provided by public television's Frontline, choose interviews with Middle Easterners and Westerners on the same topic. One good feature, for example, is Terror and Tehran. (www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/tehran/interviews/)
- Ask students to select two of the interviews (one Western, the other Middle Eastern) that take different positions.
- Use the transcripts of interviews provided by Frontline to analyze for stereotypical thinking.
- Ask students to discuss the pros, cons, and consequences of holding each position.
- Ask students to describe means for challenging each position and points of view.
- Predict how data and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.
- Interpret patterns of behavior reflecting values and attitudes that contribute to or pose obstacles to cross-cultural understanding.
Time, continuity, and change
- Investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment.
- Explain how language, art, music, belief systems, and other cultural elements can facilitate global understanding or cause misunderstanding.
- Explain conditions and motivations that contribute to conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among groups, societies, and nations.
For more information, see the
National Standards for Social Studies Teachers, Volume I.